Tag Archives: parent
I get a wonderful daily email from Bible Gateway- Psalms in a month. This was in today’s email, & I couldn’t help but think of narcissists.
Psalm 101:5 (AMP)
“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will silence;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud (arrogant) heart I will not tolerate.”
Soooooo… if God Himself has absolutely no tolerance for this type of behavior, why do people think victims should tolerate it? How is it being a “good Christian” to tolerate this sort of abuse?
It seems to me that people who believe those of us who have gone no contact or at the very least refuse to tolerate a narcissist’s abuse by giving them boundaries & consequences are putting people & their wishes above God. What they think should happen is obviously more important to them than what the Bible says. If the narcissist in question is family, they’re also putting the institution of family above God.
If you think that I’m just overreacting, consider the following from the Gospel of Matthew…
Matthew 10:34-37 (MSG) (emphasis added)
“Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.”
Reread the part I underlined. “Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.” That’s pretty clear, don’t you think? God should come first in your life, NOT other people, no matter who those people are!
For those of you who have been on the same boat as me with being condemned for being a bad person &/or bad Christian for not tolerating abuse from the narcissist in your life, please remember what the Bible has to say. God doesn’t think you’re a terrible person because you refuse to allow some horrible person to abuse you. He has called you to be like Him, not to please people, & if other people have a problem with that, well, that isn’t your problem- it’s theirs.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (AMP)
“Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; 2 and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4 (AMP)
“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel [that tells the good news of salvation through faith in Christ], so we speak, not as [if we were trying] to please people [to gain power and popularity], but to please God who examines our hearts [expecting our best].”
The last couple of days have been difficult for me. Lots of flashbacks & anxiety have been happening. When I said something to my husband about it the day before Mother’s day, he said “Mother’s Day is coming.. that has to be it!” Honestly I don’t know if that’s my problem or not, it sure could be, but anyway….
Part of one of my recent flashbacks was about when I was learning to drive. I told hubby that my ex mother in-law taught me more about driving (including driving a stick shift) than my parents did, yet both of my parents always took credit for teaching me how to drive even though they barely taught me anything. He said, “I think you should give your ex mother in-law a shout out! She did a lot of good things for you.”
Although my ex mother in-law died in 2010 & this post is going to publish a day after Mother’s Day, I agree. I also thought about another mom figure in my life who was so special to me, so I’m giving her a shout out too. I pray God allows them to know about this because they both deserve to know the big positive impacts they had on my life.
A very big thank you to my awesome ex mother in-law!! I appreciate the many things you taught me like how to drive & especially how to knit. I appreciate the encouragement you gave me when I was learning things & your faith that I could do these things. I also appreciate the fun times together, like going to craft & thrift stores, & your help picking out my first sewing machine. (Even though I still can’t sew, I appreciate a nice machine like that little beauty!) I appreciate all the laughs & your fun sense of humor, especially since it was pretty twisted like my own. I appreciate your love, support & lack of judgement. I also appreciate you trying to protect me from my mother when we lived together. I wasn’t used to anyone doing that & it was a very nice surprise.
Most of all, a big thank you for being a wonderful example of your faith & praying for me.
I’m sorry our relationship ended on a bad note & for the things I did wrong. I still remember the good things often & am so grateful for them. Thank you for everything, W. You’re very loved & missed. xoxo
My other mother figure was a dear friend I called my adopted mom. We met on a crochet message board & clicked. She was a wise, beautiful, gentle, loving, compassionate person with a powerful & inspiring faith. When I had an argument with my folks or just a rough day, she was the one I wanted to talk to. She always knew what to say to make me feel better. She also didn’t sugarcoat things- if she believed I was wrong, she’d tell me. She was free with her praise & kind words, but still told the truth even if it wasn’t pretty. She was also the one who got me started reading about Antisocial Personality Disorder which led to me learning about narcissism. We had many laughs together, mostly talking about our furkids who we both adored. She was an inspiration & one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Her death in 2009 still hurts, but I know I’ll see her again one day. Thank you for the years of friendship, love & laughs, K! xoxo
Those of us with narcissistic mothers know that a good mother is a beautiful gift. If you have a wonderful mother figure in your life, please don’t wait til it’s too late like I did- let her know how much you appreciate her now. She’ll love to hear what you say & it’ll make you feel good to tell her just how special she is to you.
Two years ago yesterday was a big argument with my parents. The biggest ever. That’s saying something because there have been some very ugly fights over the years.
I knew something ugly was brewing. My husband’s mom died 5 days prior, & he’d warned me there was an obituary in the local paper that my parents read religiously. I knew they would call about it, & I figured it’d be something like, “she was such a lovely woman” & other nonsense. My parents knew perfectly well that I hadn’t spoken to her since 2002. I’d told them that she was cruel to me (a covert narcissist), & they only met her twice. I didn’t think her death would be of any major concern to them. Comments praising her supposed sainthood were expected, & that was it. I did NOT expect the huge blow up it turned into. In fact, I’d prayed when I saw my parents’ number on my caller ID, asking God to help me behave & not blow up. That didn’t happen.. I blew. I blew big time. When both of my parents made it clear that they were mad at me for not telling them she died so they could go “pay their respects”, I blew. I felt betrayed by that, & by the fact they didn’t understand why I felt betrayed. I spelled out my feelings & they didn’t get it. (I don’t know why I even wasted my breath doing that when I know better.) I remember each of my parents defending themselves, & I kept saying things like “you know how she treated me”. They responded the same.. “But that’s Eric’s MOTHER!” I always responded with, “But I’m YOUR DAUGHTER!” Nothing. They said absolutely nothing in return to that, as if that fact was unimportant & the only thing that mattered was that this person was my husband’s mother.
What was odd is after I hung up & was praying, I knew God wanted my parents to see me that angry. I started out saying I was sorry for how I acted. I’d yelled at & cussed at my parents! That was awful & I was so sorry for not letting God lead my behavior. He said it’s ok- they needed to see their normally calm, reasonable daughter livid because of what they did (I’m still not sure why exactly). This argument also opened the door for no contact. I finally felt the time was right after wanting to do it for over a year & knowing in my heart the timing wasn’t right. My mother gave me the silent treatment anyway for standing up to her, so that was easy. My father was tougher since he always demanded I talk to him whenever he wanted, no matter what I had going on.
It’s strange the way things worked out for the best in spite of how much that incident hurt me. Good came from it! It taught me to trust God more, since He clearly helped me that night to accomplish what needed to be done. He truly knows best & it’s amazing how He guides you when you let Him. It also helped me to realize I can stand up for myself, which is something I never felt well equipped to do.
I guess my point in sharing this, Dear Reader, is you really can trust God to enable you to do whatever you need to do, & that includes standing up to narcissist. I know, that is incredibly difficult to do. But, it’s also very possible. Trust Him- He won’t lead you wrong! He’ll give you the words you need to say as you need them. He’ll give you strength & courage. He’ll help you to be quiet when the timing is wrong for standing up to them & help you when the timing is right. God is truly a loving, caring Father. He always has your back! xoxo
One especially devious, creative ways narcissists abuse their victims is cementing facts in their brains. What I mean is, a narcissist can imply something once, then reinforce what they said by their actions instead of words. The result is you feel a certain way, & if you say anything to the narcissist, they will say they don’t know what you’re talking about or deny that they ever said anything in the first place.
As one example from my life, I have a terrible time admitting when I don’t feel well, taking time to recover or asking for help. I feel like I need to be OK at all times so I don’t upset anyone or burden anyone by asking them for help. I even question myself, wondering if I really have whatever problem I am dealing with at the time, even when my symptoms are glaringly obvious.
Do you have some false belief cemented in your mind too? If so, you’re not alone! This sort of thing happens all the time to children of narcissistic parents. There are some ways to cope.
As always, I recommend praying as the first step. Ask God for wisdom, to help you heal & anything else you can think of.
When it comes to healing, I firmly believe in getting to the root of the problem. It’s the most effective way to resolve the problem permanently. To do this, try to remember the earliest time in your life when you felt a certain way, & then deal with it from there. To explain it, I’ll tell you what I did.
When considering how hard a time I’ve had admitting I have health problems, I thought back over my life, present to past, during times I was sick or injured. I remembered many, many times when my mother didn’t believe I had a health problem unless it was something very obvious, like a bad case of the flu. As a child, she complained when she had to take care of me when I was sick. When I was only 5 years old, my mother woke me up one morning by tickling me. In trying to get away from her, I slipped & hit my head on the big wooden headboard. Long story short, the result was a trip to the ER & several stitches in my scalp. Afterward, my mother took me to the mall & bought me a coloring book & crayons, something she complained about buying for years. During the experience, my mother didn’t comfort me. She was upset & I felt completely responsible for that.
These experiences taught me that I shouldn’t burden anyone with my health concerns, I should be “ok” at all times so as not to upset anyone & my problems aren’t important.
To undo this warped thinking, I found it very helpful to look at things very logically, ignoring feelings for the moment. Here are some things I came up with:
- Why did my mother take me to the mall after a trip to the hospital?! I had a head injury! I should’ve been home, resting quietly. She could’ve called my father & asked him to pick up the coloring book & crayons on his way home from work, or asked a friend or neighbor to do it.
- My mother should never have complained to me about how hard that incident was for her or having to take care of me when I was sick. That is what parents do. It’s a part of the job.
- Why has my mother not believed me or blamed me about health issues as an adult? Since narcissists love projection, it makes me think it’s because she has either exaggerated or even faked her own health problems & thinks other people do the same
I can’t honestly say that I’m 100% ok now. I can say though, that since thinking about these things, I’ve already gotten better at admitting when I don’t feel well. I haven’t needed to ask anyone for help yet, but I am certain that will be easier too. It seems to me that when you face things, they lose much of their power over you. When you examine them & realize how wrong they were, they lose even more power.
What false beliefs are cemented in your mind? I would like to encourage you today to face them. No, it isn’t easy, but it is possible. The things I mentioned earlier did hurt me when I first thought about them, & made me angry. However, I’m still glad I did because that enabled me to remove the false beliefs I’ve carried around my entire life & replace them with healthier beliefs. I firmly believe the same thing can happen to you!
Although the title of this post may sound like common sense, it may not be to everyone. Or, you may logically understand that yet still don’t feel you have the right to go no contact with the narcissist in your life. Narcissists are very good at destroying how you think, even making you feel you have to have that abuser in your life. (God forbid you think in a healthy way! You’re so much easier to manipulate if you are dysfunctional!)
I just want to remind you today, Dear Reader, that you absolutely have the right to protect yourself. You have the right to set healthy boundaries & expect them to be respected. You have the right to enforce consequences when they aren’t respected. You have the right to expect to be treated with civility & basic respect. And yes, you have the right to end an abusive relationship. It doesn’t matter if that abuser is a friend, significant other, sibling or even a parent. No one has the right to abuse you! NO ONE!
I understand that many people who read my blog are in situations where they are unable to end their abusive relationship for various reasons. I certainly am not trying to make you feel bad for your position!! Everyone’s situation is different. But, of all the reasons to stay in such a relationship, the false belief that one doesn’t have the right to end it should not be one of those reasons!
After years of being in all kinds of relationships with narcissists (family, friendship & romantic), I realize I’m different than your average woman. This happens to victims of narcissists. Even once we realize what has happened to us, we’re different because of the experience. Trauma has a way of changing a person.
Those changes can be for the better, such as when we are able to recognize abusive people quickly & set boundaries with them. The changes also can be for the worse. Sometimes dealing with those closest to us, especially our spouses, can be difficult even when it shouldn’t be simply because of our past experiences. I am hoping this post will help victims & their partners to understand what is happening so they can work through the problems together.
Victims are taught not to have needs & feelings & if they express any, narcissists shame them for having them. This can make it incredibly difficult to open up to anyone, even someone we love who isn’t a narcissist. First, a victim feels wrong & ashamed for feeling or needing whatever they do. Then that person is terrified of being shamed or invalidated for having them. Even if someone has been nothing but kind to a victim, the victim still can fear that person’s disapproval or rejection. If your partner is that way, please don’t take it personally. It isn’t your fault! It’s a side effect of narcissistic abuse. Please just be patient. Listen without offering advice unless you are asked for it. If you don’t understand something, ask questions without sounding judgmental.
Being overly negative happens sometimes too. Partner, it’s not your fault! Healing from narcissistic abuse is a long, arduous, painful journey. Sometimes it gets to be too much. It feels like everything is bad, even when it truly isn’t. It can be very easy for a victim to get mired down in negativity. Please do NOT tell this person to cheer up, others have it worse or get mad. That will only add to the negative mindset. Maybe suggest going out to dinner or to the park- some small gesture to distract the victim could be helpful. Make your loved one feel loved & safe. Let her know she can talk to you if she wants to, but doesn’t need to if she doesn’t want to.
Along the lines of being very negative is making small things a big deal. When you feel overwhelmed in trying to heal, or if you have C-PTSD or PTSD like so many victims of narcissistic abuse, sometimes you feel you can’t handle one more thing. Then when that one more thing comes along, it’s too much & you blow up. Even something as simple as misplacing a pen can push you over the edge & you snap at your spouse who had nothing to do with the missing pen. If this is happening, try suggesting some down time to your spouse. Suggest lunch out with a good friend, or you both go somewhere you enjoy like the movies. Even a brief reprieve can be helpful in regaining a better perspective.
Many victims project the image of not needing their partner. People who grew up with narcissistic parents had to be very self reliant. It became a way of life. Even if a victim has shed that behavior, if there is any issue in the victim’s marriage, self preservation kicks in & this behavior comes to the surface. As the person who sees this behavior, let it be a sign to you that something is wrong in your marriage. Try to figure it out. Ask your spouse if everything is OK & be reassuring of your love.
Emotional withdraw is common too. Suddenly, those little nice things your mate did for you stop or seem to be a burden to do. Maybe your mate is too tired for sex when that was never an issue before. This is a sign something is wrong. Try doing nice gestures like bringing home your partner’s favorite coffee or a new book, CD or DVD. Little gestures like that can be reassuring & may make your spouse feel more willing to open up to you.
Being married to someone who has survived narcissistic abuse can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. A little love, compassion & understanding can go a long way.
Anyone who has made the decision to go no contact has no doubt thought about resuming that relationship at some point. This is especially common when a person ends a familial relationship.
I really think this is because God made people to need relationships, in particular those with our families. Ending a familial relationship is abnormal, no matter how valid the reasons. It goes against nature so it’s very painful to do & also to live with. As a result, it’s only natural to reconsider the decision to go no contact with family. When parents are involved, that decision is doubted even more often.
If you’re reconsidering your decision to go no contact, first of all, please know you aren’t abnormal, a glutton for punishment or anything else bad you may be feeling right now. You’re normal. In spite of the tremendous amount of prayer & consideration that goes into going no contact, I seriously don’t think there is one person who doesn’t have doubts about it at some point. I certainly haven’t talked with anyone who hasn’t doubted their choice. I can honestly say every single person has, including myself.
If you end a relationship with a family member, chances are slim that person will be out of your life entirely. You may see each other at family parties, reunions, weddings & even funerals. Even if you haven’t spoken to each other in a long time, you still share relatives & they will mention that person at some point. They may mention what is new in that person’s life or that they saw that person recently. If that person develops health problems, you are guaranteed to hear all about it, whether you want to or not.
When you see that person after a long time or when a mutual friend or relative mentions that person is having health problems, those are likely times for you to consider reconnecting. Before you do that, please pray & think long & hard before you do anything.
When you pray about it, listen to what God has to say. He probably won’t give direct orders by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord….” Instead, you may feel a “knowing” about what you need to do. Listen to that! I firmly believe those “knowings” are from God.
Think long & hard about what this person you’re considering reconnecting with is doing. When your mutual friend or relative talks about that person, do you see old familiar patterns in that person’s behavior? Is that person still controlling? Critical? Abusive? If so, reconnecting is a terrible idea!
Another thing to watch for- if that person has told someone to tell you that they are sorry, do that person’s actions back up the words? Has the person accepted responsibility for their abusive actions? Did she mention specific acts that she was apologizing for or did she say non apologies like “I’m sorry you feel I was mean to you” or “I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did wrong”? Non apologies are NOT real apologies! They are said to lure you back into the relationship thinking all is OK now.
Also watch the person’s behavior. Does that person respect the fact you wish to stay no contact or try to contact you even years later? Safe people don’t like when someone ends a relationship with them, but they at least respect that person’s decision. They don’t inundate them with phone calls, texts, emails, posts on social media, etc. They stay out of the life of the person who ended contact with them. Unsafe people are much different. If they don’t want to end a relationship, they will fight hard not to let it end. They often harass, stalk, & bully. My mother & I stopped speaking to each other in 2016, & all was fine.. until my father was dying in October, 2017. Suddenly she called & sent me notes in the mail often & the flying monkeys attacked me constantly. Two months to the day after he died, & also two days before Christmas, I received a letter from her lawyer in the mail trying to force me to talk to her. This behavior shows me that nothing has changed with her. She still believes what she wants is what matters.
So Dear Reader, if you are considering ending no contact with someone, then please consider what I said. Pay attention to what you hear & observe about the person before allowing that person back into your life. And most of all pray! God will NOT lead you wrong!
As anyone with experience with a narcissist knows, they accept no blame for anything they have done. Ever. You can confront them about something terrible they have done, then later walk away wondering why you just apologized to them instead of them apologizing to you. This post will help you identify some of the common blame shifting behaviors so you won’t fall for them in the future.
Probably the most common thing that narcissists do to shift the blame is to play the victim. This is especially common with covert narcissists, but overt ones will do it as well. The narcissist will turn your legitimate concern around in such a way that you feel as if you’re being too hard on that person, overreacting or being too sensitive. After all, they never had any idea that what they said or did would hurt you, they say. Or, they may bring up some (probably imaginary) thing you did in the past, claiming that is abusive, & turning the topic of the conversation to that incident rather than your topic.
Closely related to playing the victim is the guilt trip done to shift blame. They may tell you about something painful that they experienced in their childhood or say things like, “Why are you yelling at me? I didn’t mean to hurt you!” Before you know it, you’re comforting them even though they hurt you!
They often accuse their victims of bad or even abusive behavior, but especially during the times when they are confronted. This is an effective way to shift the blame from the narcissist to the victim. My mother did this to me when I was growing up. She said I made her do something bad to me because of how terrible I was acting. On my seventeenth birthday, she destroyed my gifts that my now ex husband gave me, then made me clean up the mess she made. She said because I was “acting so snotty”, which is what made her destroy those gifts. The truth was when I took the gifts from school to her car at the end of my day, I was terrified what she was going to do to me because she hated my ex, & was quiet. I wasn’t “acting snotty”- I was acting terrified!
Narcissists also minimize the feelings of their victims to shift blame to the victim. Basically, this shifts the blame to the victim for how they responded to the abuse rather than the abuse itself. They may say things like “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re crazy,” or “I was just joking!”
When you’re talking with a narcissist & these things happen, then you can be certain they are attempting to shift the blame off of themselves. The best thing you can do is to redirect the conversation back to the original topic, as calmly as you can. Wait on the narcissist to finish whatever she is saying, then calmly say something, “Ok, but that isn’t what we were talking about. We will address that later. We’re discussing ____ at the moment.” You may have to do that a few times, but keep doing it. If that doesn’t work, try saying, “We’ll talk about this another time when you are ready to talk,” then leave or hang up the phone, & approach her another time in the very near future.
Unfortunately with narcissists, there is never an easy answer. Doing what I suggested may not work at all for you in the sense of being able to hash out the problem at hand. However, the good thing is it will let that narcissist know that you aren’t going to be fooled by the blame shifting nor will you be pushed around.
1 Timothy 5:3-8 “3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NIV)
Elderly narcissistic parents are often even more entitled than their younger counterparts. For their children, this can be an incredibly painful position to be in.
Many adult children of narcissistic parents feel they have no other option than to be their parents’ caregiver, even at the cost of their health & their own family. After all, we can’t forget Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (NIV). Then there is 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (KJV) Doesn’t this all mean you have to be hands on with your elderly parents, no matter what? NO!!
I do NOT believe that God wishes His children to take care of their narcissistic parents no matter the personal cost. That doesn’t sound like the God I know!
First, to honor your parent simply means to give them the respect they deserve as the people who created you. You acknowledge them as your parents. You speak to them civilly, not rudely or disrespectfully. Honoring them does NOT mean tolerating their abuse. It also doesn’t mean that you neglect your family to take care of your parents. If you opt to take care of your parents in a hands-on way, you can honor them by helping them as much as you feel able without wearing yourself out or neglecting your family.
Also, remember 1 Timothy 5:8 says that you must provide for them. You can provide for your parents in various ways, not necessarily being “hands on”. Arranging for help to come to your parents’ home is a great way to help them & provide for them. Researching local resources for whatever help they need is providing for them. Paying for things your parents need yet can’t afford but you can is providing for them.
As your parents become elderly & need more assistance than they once did, you need to prepare ahead of time as much as you can. Even if your parents are still relatively young, start to look towards the future now. You never know what can happen. Things can change in an instant, so you need to be prepared.
Start praying & asking God for wisdom & insight on what boundaries you will need to set when the time comes as well as strength to enforce those boundaries.
Read up on the topic to see what others do with their elderly narcissistic parents, & honestly ask yourself what you can & can’t do. There are plenty of informative caregiver websites out there.
Most libraries are a wealth of information. The library near me has a ton of pamphlets & booklets near the entrance on various services in the area, including information from the local Department of Aging. I found a booklet there for seniors’ resources. It includes information on cleaning services, in home health care, assisted living facilities, contact information from the Department of Aging, & much more. Your library may have a similar booklet- it’s worth checking into.
If you’re going to be involved in caring for your narcissistic parents, it’s best to learn as much as you can about what’s happening with their health. Narcissists love to exaggerate their illnesses, & you need to be aware of what the truth is & what they are making up. Read up about their conditions online or talk to their doctors without them around.
If something needs to be done to help you to help them, stress how this will help them. Leave out how it will benefit you entirely, & make it sound like it will help them only. In my own caregiving experiences, I’ve noticed that saying that something will help me falls on deaf ears. Saying that same thing will benefit the narcissistic parent however, gets the narcissist’s attention.
In fact, don’t discuss anything about you as much as possible. If an elderly narcissist knows you’re not feeling well or are tired, they will push you to do more & more as they can get away with it. Wearing you down gives them some sick pleasure.
When you set boundaries, do so as cheerfully as possible & with no explanations. As always, any information these people get can be turned into ammunition they will use to hurt you with.
It is possible to keep your sanity in tact while caring for a narcissist. Keep in mind everything you know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, set & enforce boundaries, don’t neglect yourself or your own family for your parents & most of all, keep God first in your life. Depend on Him completely to help you do such things & show you what to do, when to do it & how to do it.
If you opt to keep your distance, then try not to feel guilty. If you know in your heart that you can’t be a more hands-on caregiver, there is no shame in that. God only asks people to do their best, nothing more. Sadly, some people are so incredibly toxic, there is just no way to interact with them on a daily basis. It happens, unfortunately. If your parent is that way, you have done nothing to feel guilty about by protecting yourself.
Many of us who grew up with narcissistic parents ended up with food issues or even full blown eating disorders. This usually isn’t because we were using some poor coping skills to deal with the abuse. It’s because many narcissists are obsessed with food, & they put their own issues onto their children
Some narcissists hoard food, not even wanting to share it with their own child. Some complain incessantly about what their child eats or doesn’t eat. Some expect & even demand their child like & dislike the same foods the parent likes & dislikes. When the child has a different opinion, the parent invalidates & criticizes the child. Some force their child to eat when they’re not hungry, & then complain because they did eat. Many also criticize their child’s weight extremely harshly, ridiculing the child for being too fat or too skinny, even when the child is a healthy weight. Some narcissistic parents even withhold food from their child as a punishment. Growing up in such madness definitely creates food issues for a child. How could it not?
I grew up hearing how fat I was ever since I can remember. Looking at childhood pictures though, I don’t see a fat child- I see a normal child. Well, now I do. When I was a child, I saw someone incredibly fat & disgusting. So much so, I went through anorexia at about age 10, then later bulimia in my teens. My mother also criticized what I ate & how my entire life. According to her, I either ate way too much or way too little & was wasting her money on food. She even made me eat when I didn’t want to & called me a hog if I ate the last of something, such as the last cookie in the package. And, she encouraged emotional eating. Sad? Have a snack. Happy? Celebrate by having a snack. Angry? Eat.. it’ll make you feel better. I also wasn’t even allowed in my mother’s kitchen growing up. I wasn’t even allowed to get myself something to eat or drink. Neither was my father. The kitchen was my mother’s private domain, & no one was allowed to enter unless they wanted to face her wrath.
I bet many of you can relate to some if not all of my story, can’t you?
I think the reason so many narcissists behave so crazily about food mostly boils down to narcissistic supply. Food is necessary for life. Eating is a way to take care of yourself. Narcissists never want their victims to do anything good for themselves since it might contribute to healthy self esteem- something they refuse to allow victims to have. Supply is gained if they can tear apart someone’s self esteem or prevent someone from gaining any boost to it. Plus, parents can control what their children eat, & control is a great way to provide a narcissist with supply.
Projection also can be why narcissistic parents behave this way with food. If your narcissistic mother has her own food issues, she won’t deal with them as a normal person would. Instead, she’ll try to put them on you so she can get upset about them while refusing to take any responsibility for them. This certainly happened with my mother. She was raised by her own narcissistic mother, & one of her coping skills her mother taught her as a child was to turn to food. She maintained that skill as an adult & judging by how she’s always been with me, is deeply bothered by it.
Personally, I’m still trying to sort out my own food issues since most of the time, I don’t want to eat, but at least it’s much better than it once was. It’s a long journey towards healing in this area. God has truly helped me a great deal with it though. He has helped me to understand that my mother did wrong in this area (among others) with me, & the things she said to me & accused me of were wrong. He’s also helped me to understand food better & reject the awful teaching I received about it growing up. He can do the same for you, Dear Reader. Turn to God. Ask Him to help you heal in this area & to teach you whatever it is you need to know. He loves you so much & will be more than happy to do so!
I admit it.. I have another big pet peeve: people who label those of us without children as selfish. After seeing a post on Facebook a little while ago that labeled someone else without children as selfish, I thought I would write a blog post about it.
Many people quickly judge people without children. I’ve been called selfish, immature, told “the reason you don’t want kids is because of your mother” & also told I’d regret not having children one day. None of that is even close to the truth, as is so often the case with those without children.
Some things to consider before judging are…
- Maybe a person doesn’t have children because either she or her mate are infertile. Infertility is an extremely painful thing for couples to experience. It’s especially cruel to judge & criticize these people for not having children! You’re plunging a knife into their hearts when you do that!
- Some people don’t have children because they grew up in a dysfunctional environment & realize they don’t know how to be good parents. If you grew up in an abusive or at least dysfunctional home, it’s hard to know how to be a good parent! How is it selfish for someone who doesn’t know what it takes to be a good parent not to have children?
- Some people always have felt more comfortable in the company of adults. That is also me. I preferred the company of adults, even as a child. There are a surprising number of people like me.
- Not everyone can relate to children. Some people who may not have spent a lot of time around children when they were growing up or were the youngest in their families may not be able to relate well to children due to not a great deal of experience around them.
- Not wanting children doesn’t mean a person hates them. A common belief for those of us without children is that we hate kids. Sadly, some folks do feel that way. That isn’t always the case though. Personally, I don’t hate kids. I just can’t understand them well. Big difference between that & hating kids.
- And, people who don’t want kids aren’t selfish! We have given this serious consideration before coming to the decision not to have kids. Another common misconception of childless folks is we’re just selfish jerks. Nope. We have given the topic of children a LOT of thought! I even tried talking myself into wanting kids several times in my life, but it never felt right even as I said I wanted kids or dated men who wanted them.
If you speak with someone who doesn’t have children, please consider the things I’ve said & don’t judge or criticize them. Everyone has different callings on their life. Not every person feels called to be a parent.
Romans 15:2 “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” (NIV)
One of the most common yet stupid things said to Christians in the situation of having a narcissistic parent is how you’re not a good Christian let alone son or daughter if you don’t do everything your parents want, right down to tolerating their abusing you.
Truly, some people have no concept of what it truly means to honor your parent. They also must have missed Romans 15:2. Take a moment to read that Scripture again…
“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
See that? “..for their good…” That doesn’t mean to do blindly for someone, it means to do things that benefit them. Doing whatever your narcissistic parent wants doesn’t necessarily mean doing what is best for them. Narcissists care more about what feels good at the moment than what is genuinely good for them.
So what is “for their good”?
- Taking your elderly narcissistic parent to the doctor when sick.
- Helping your parent by cutting their grass when their lawn mower is broken or washing their clothes when their washer is broken.
- Buying them something you think your parent would like just to be a blessing.
- Setting & enforcing boundaries.
- Saying no.
- Going no contact.
The last three items were pretty hard to consider good, weren’t they? They really are good though, & I’ll tell you why.
All three of those behaviors are about boundaries, & boundaries are a VERY good thing. Boundaries show others how you wish to be treated & gives people the option to treat you accordingly or not without forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. Boundaries encourage good behavior while helping you not to be responsible for someone else’s behavior, feelings, etc. In short, boundaries are a very loving behavior. Granted, narcissist don’t see them that way, but it’s still true. (If you’re interested, I have a free “Boundaries” book study course & article about boundaries on my website.)
Saying no is also a good boundary behavior because nobody needs to go through life without being told no at some point. Getting one’s way creates spoiled, entitled people with no regard for others (sound familiar??). Narcissists don’t like to be told no, & will do whatever they can to avoid it, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t hear no. The more they hear it, the less they will demand of you. This works well for you & at the same time, teaches the narcissist that you won’t tolerate being pushed around. A very good thing for the narcissist to learn.
No contact also can be for someone’s good sometimes. No contact should be the final step after trying to work out the relationship, & often, sadly, it’s very necessary with narcissists. It can be good for narcissists though, because it shows them they simply can’t go around abusing people & expecting them to tolerate it indefinitely. Also, you never know- maybe with you not in that person’s life, God will be able to reach her & help her to see the error of her ways. Sometimes it takes having people out of a person’s life for them to turn to God. (Granted, that is extremely rare, but with God, all things are possible.) No contact also removes the opportunity for that person to sin by removing you to abuse from her life. These things are all for the narcissist’s own good.
Doing something for someone’s own good never means giving someone whatever they want or tolerating abuse. These never benefit anyone! If someone suggests otherwise, they clearly have no idea what it means to love someone God’s way.
Psychology fascinates me. I like to understand what makes people tick & why they do the things they do, which explains my interest in true crime. I’m this way even with narcissists. While I never can agree with their abuse of course, I am still curious what makes them do the things they do. Besides, I’ve learned understanding them to a degree helps me to keep a healthy perspective about who is really the abuser, & who is the victim. A lifetime of gaslighting still can make it hard sometimes to remember who the real victim & abuser are. (For the record, I don’t think anyone can fully understand a narcissist except for another narcissist, so I know I’ll never entirely “get” them.)
I would guess I’m not the only person who is interested in understanding how people think, so I’m sharing this in case anyone else may find this as interesting as I did.
God showed me something quite interesting just before my father died last October.
As I mentioned before, he was in the hospital for 20 days on life support. In that time, I had people (some I didn’t even know) contacting me to tell me that I needed to see him before he died, “so he could die in peace.” “After all, you only get one set of parents!” “You need to put your feelings aside.” & the classic, “I understand why you won’t see him, but you need to go see him.” (How does that even make sense?!) Yep, I heard a LOT of crap. My phone also rang, sometimes for 20+ rings at a time or there were frequent repeated calls back from people I didn’t even know, but who knew my parents. Thank God for caller ID! I didn’t know the number but at least I knew the names, so I knew not to take those calls. It was a very painful time.. not only because of losing my father but also because of the constant bullying & harassment from so many people, even total strangers.
A few days before my father died, I was thinking about the entire situation. It made me cry, as it did a lot at that time. In my sadness I asked God, “Why do things have to be this way?! This whole thing is so stupid & so wrong!” Very clearly, I heard His voice… “Some people have made very bad decisions.”
It struck me.. that makes so much sense. I knew exactly what He meant by that simple sentence!
Narcissists decide to act as they do. They decided early in their lives that they were more important than other people & entitled to whatever they want. They decided to shut down the natural empathy that people are born with & focus only on their wants, needs, etc. instead of caring about others. They also decided they are allowed to use & abuse people to get what they want.
Flying monkeys also made a decision to be blindly loyal to their narcissist no matter what. They decided they didn’t want to know anything beyond what the narcissist says about a situation. They also decide to harass, stalk, shame & basically torture a victim if that’s what a narcissist wants of them (& often it is). All flying monkeys have decided that a narcissist’s victim does NOT matter, only the narcissist & flying monkey matter.
Bad decisions like these are why people are abusive. They have chosen to put themselves first & to disregard & even abuse other people. This means the responsibility of their actions is completely on them. No one forced anyone to make the decisions they made. No one forces them to continue making bad decisions or to continue the dysfunctional course they’re on.
These bad decisions also open the door for Satan to enter their lives, & close it for God to enter. Every bad decision opens the door wider for the devil while closes it tighter to God. I firmly believe that narcissism isn’t necessarily something biologically wrong with a person, but is demonic in nature. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 says, “He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (AMP) The day my father died, a dear friend of mine received a vision from God about his salvation. God reminded her of this verse at that time. He said that is why my father behaved as he did- he had been taken captive by the devil to do his will. Not long after he died, I thought about that Scripture & how it related to the bad decisions God told me about. It makes a great deal of sense!
One thing many people fail to realize though is everything a person decides to do sows a seed, good or bad. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (KJV) A person who abuses other people will NOT reap a harvest of love & kindness. It’s only natural! You can’t plant corn & expect to get an apple tree!
And, everyone has a point where they’ve had enough. When they walk away, that is because the abuser is reaping their harvest. I know, abusers & flying monkeys see this very differently, but it’s true. No one who walks away is trying to punish or hurt the narcissist (we all realize that’s impossible anyway- narcissists don’t feel the way normal people feel). We decide to walk away to protect ourselves & to stop the constant abuse. It is a perfectly normal thing to do. It is the natural harvest a person reaps after deciding to sow seeds of abuse in another person’s life.
Narcissistic parents are not like normal parents in so many ways. One of those ways is they never want their children to grow up. Why? Because a child is much easier to control than a self sufficient adult.
So how is something like this possible? Narcissistic parents make their children feel like they are forever the child, & the parent is forever the adult. This is done primarily through emotional warfare, such as making the child feel shame, fear, manipulating the child & reminding that child who the “adult” is in this situation. To show you what I mean, I’ll share some examples from my life.
I was a teenager in the 80’s. My friends were wearing make up by the eighth grade, & dating by the same time. I however, was unable to wear even lipstick before ninth grade. It took a great deal of begging on my part to be able to wear more makeup in ninth grade. Also, although my mother had told me for years that I could date at 16, when I met my now ex husband just prior to turning 17, my mother went completely ballistic at the prospect of me dating. In fact, she accused me of outrageous behaviors at that time, such as having sex with the entire high school football team & doing drugs. Her abuse hit its peak at that time, all because I admitted to wanting to date & called her out on saying I could date at 16. She refused to let me date until 1 week before my eighteenth birthday.
Another way my mother & many other narcissistic mothers keep their children childish is to control their appearance. My mother has dressed much the same way my entire life, & she always has attempted to make me dress a lot like her. I remember in late elementary school, sitting in a fitting room, fuming because my mother wanted me to like the hideous dark blue polyester pantsuit she insisted on buying for me. It was absolutely her taste, not mine, & no matter how much I stated my hatred of it, she was determined to make me wear it. As a teen in the 80’s, you would think I would have had mall bangs, pegged jeans & some of the other embarrassing fashion trends of the time, but nope.. instead, I dressed like a frumpy, middle aged housewife. Even as an adult, my mother would buy me clothes in her taste, not mine. One Christmas she got us matching shirts.
Age appropriate activities were also discouraged. School dances were not approved of, although I was able to attend a couple as long as I didn’t have a date. If my mother asked if I danced & I said yes, I was shamed for that. I was also not allowed to get a driver’s license until I was 18, & my mother could no longer legally stop me. She did, however, hide my birth certificate & showed it to the employee at the DMV while not allowing me to see it.
I moved out of my parents’ home just after I turned 19. My mother was livid. She told me I’d never make it on my own, I’d be back in six months & other nasty things. I felt then like she took me moving out as a betrayal, not as a natural course of events.
Once out on my own, my mother immediately broke her key in the front door, claiming it wasn’t her fault. My father ended up replacing all the door locks on the house. I don’t think it was an accident- I firmly believe it was my mother’s way of making sure I didn’t come back into her house since I had forgotten to give her my key back after moving out.
Being on my own didn’t stop her infantilizing behavior either. My mother constantly did little things to show me she disapproved of where I was living or how I maintained my home. She would inspect a glass before drinking out of it, obviously making sure it was clean enough to drink from, tell me I didn’t vacuum frequently enough or insult the town where I live claiming only “snobs” live here.
Behaviors like this are not only painful for the child (no matter her age) to live with, they also create a deep seeded insecurity & anxiety in the child. Prior to learning about infantilization, a child may grow up overly dependent on the parent doing the infantilization. The child thinks that parent knows so much more & she can do nothing without that parent’s wisdom. The child doesn’t trust herself. When a parent treats a child as if “Mother/Father knows best” no matter the child’s age, it ruins the child’s ability to trust in her own intelligence or instincts.
Once an infantilized person realizes what has happened, reversing the damage takes a LONG time & a lot of work. I was 16 when I began to see that the things my mother thought I should do/wear/like/drive/etc. & her opinions weren’t good for me- they were good for her. I am now 47 & I still have doubts about myself more often than I care to admit. Even so, the amount of time & energy I’ve put into shutting out her behavior has been worth it to learn to trust myself.
I wasn’t a Christian when I first began this journey, so honestly prayer wasn’t involved at first. However, now when I have doubts, I run to God immediately. I ask Him “Is this OK?” “Should I do/not do that?” or any question I have.
I also have found it valuable to question everything. When my mother would give me an article of clothing & say I should like it, I questioned myself- do I really like this? Why? If she told me I should or shouldn’t do something, I also questioned myself- What will happen if I do/don’t do this? Will it benefit me? Even now that my mother has been out of my life for two years, I still do this behavior if I have any doubts.
Getting to know yourself, your real self & not the self your parent(s) tried to make you into is also invaluable. The better you know your true likes & dislikes, the less doubt you will have & the more you will trust your own decisions. One way to get to know yourself is to learn your Myers Briggs personality. I found it to be an indispensable tool in getting to know myself! If you are interested in taking the test, you can find it at this link: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp There is also a list that describes all of the types at this link.
You also have to learn to trust your instincts. I believe they are the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us, which is why they are so wise. Infantilization ruins one’s ability to trust one’s own instincts, unfortunately. Try listening to those gut feelings on small stuff, then work up to bigger issues. It really gets easier the more you do it.
As hard as it can be, you really can conquer the damage done by infantilization!
Sometimes avoiding narcissists is impossible no matter how hard you try & how much knowledge you have about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. When that happens, there are some ways that you can fluster them enough to where they will want to leave you alone.
If you have & enforce good boundaries, narcissists won’t like you. A good victim has weak or non existent boundaries. If you have & enforce your boundaries, a narcissist won’t know what to do with you. They may try to make you feel stupid or wrong for having them, but when you are secure in the knowledge what you are doing is right, their gaslighting won’t work.
Having healthy self esteem is a huge turn off to narcissists. The lower a person’s self esteem, the easier that person is to control. Similarly, the healthier a person’s self esteem, the harder that person is to control. While narcissists often enjoy the challenge of controlling a person with healthy self esteem, they will give up when they see that person isn’t going to tolerate their abuse.
Knowing about NPD is also a huge turn off to narcissists. Even if you don’t explain the ugly details of narcissism to them or call them out, so long as you know what these people are like & what they are capable of, it will be a problem for them. Narcissists don’t want anyone to figure out what they are doing, because a person who understands their games cannot be controlled or manipulated, & won’t create any narcissistic supply.
Self validation is a powerful weapon against narcissists. They want their victims to look only to them for validation. A person who doesn’t need the narcissist for validation won’t provide any narcissistic supply or be controlled by a narcissist.
Understanding that no contact is a very viable option gives you strength when dealing with a narcissist, & they can’t handle that. Narcissists want to be the ones in charge at all times. If you know that you have options, & don’t have to let the narcissist make all decisions in the relationship, you will become a problem to a narcissist.
If a narcissist knows you don’t need him or her, you become a threat. Narcissistic parents & spouses in particular like to make a victim completely dependent on them, preferably financially or emotionally. If they see you are well aware you don’t need the narcissist, can leave the relationship anytime & still survive just fine, you won’t be a good victim to the narcissist.
Avoiding all narcissists seems to be impossible, unfortunately. However, if you can implement some of these tools, you will be able to handle yourself very well when you must deal with them.
There is a lot of information out there about going no contact, but not a lot of it is good, in depth information. It isn’t always helpful for those who are seriously considering going no contact with their narcissistic parent. The purpose of this post is to provide a deeper look at things to consider when going no contact.
No contact is a very serious decision, & never should be entered into lightly. Never, ever initiate it unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s the right thing for you to do. Never initiate it during the heat of the moment such as during an argument. Only initiate it after a great deal of serious prayer & consideration.
No contact also is a permanent decision. If you resume contact with a narcissist, chances are excellent that this person’s behavior will be a LOT worse than it was before you started no contact. If you let that person suck you back into a relationship or if you are the one who initiates contact again is not important. The important thing is you’re back. The narcissist will start out behaving with you to test the waters, but that won’t last long. They see you as being weak with weak boundaries (easy prey in other words), since you allowed this relationship to be reconciled. Also, since you set that boundary of no contact, you must be punished for that as well. This is why no contact must be a permanent decision! Once ties are severed, accept no communication from the narcissist at all. Block all emails, phone numbers, social media accounts.. any access that person can use to contact you. If they find ways around it, block that access too. You may need to change your email address, phone number or name on your social media accounts.
No contact isn’t easy. You lose people you never expected to lose from your life, even family members. That is incredibly painful, but it’s very common. It seems to me that the majority of people would rather side blindly with the narcissist than stand up for what’s right. Maybe they’re afraid of facing the narcissist’s wrath if they side with you. Maybe they think it’s easier to get you to change than the narcissist & they’re just looking for an easy way out of this situation. Or, maybe they’d rather think of you as bad, wrong, crazy, etc. than admit to themselves that you were abused & they didn’t protect or help you. Whatever their “logic”, it’s still going to hurt you a LOT when they abandon you in favor of your abuser. On the good side though, you do find out who your real friends are. Those who stand by your side even if they don’t understand the situation are your real friends. Those who don’t judge you or tell you that you need to “forgive & forget” are your real friends. Those who refuse to give your abuser the time of day are also your real friends.
Your emotions are going to go haywire for a while. I believe this is because your mind is finally free from constantly having to think about the narcissist. They seem to take up all the room in any relationship, leaving no room for you or even for you to think about things other than them. You are to find ways to appease & please them, avoid their wrath, anticipate all of their needs & wants, prop up their ego at all times & more. Then, once you realize how messed up all of this is, you need to find ways to stop providing them with narcissistic supply, battle their gaslighting so you can keep your sanity & avoid them as much as possible. Any relationship with a narcissist is a LOT of work! Once that is done, it’s like your brain finally realizes it’s free of that, & decides now is the time to start dealing with that stuff it couldn’t deal with when in the relationship with the narcissist. All kinds of memories come to the surface & with them, a ton of emotions. Even when memories aren’t popping up, your emotions can go haywire because finally you can feel instead of only focusing on the narcissist.
If anyone tells you that no contact is taking the easy way out, don’t listen to them. No contact is usually the necessary step to take, but that doesn’t make anything about it easy!
Narcissistic parents might like to think they’re the best parents ever, but they are so far from it. They instill the worst possible beliefs in their children that often follow (well, maybe more like haunt) those children for the rest of their lives. Below is a list of a few of them.
- “You need to be able to do anything & everything I tell you to, no matter what! Not because you’re talented or capable, so don’t think that! But because I want you to do those things!” Narcissistic parents are a confusing group. One way they are confusing is treating their children like they should be able to do anything, yet also making sure they know they aren’t smart, talented or capable. As an example, my parents were very parentalizing. In other words, they wanted me to take care of them rather than them taking care of me. Even as a young child, they’d come to me with complaints about their marriage & sometimes, they’d expect me to fix whatever disagreement it was that they had. I was just supposed to know how to fix things for them, but at the same time, both let me know they didn’t think I was smart. This type of behavior can lead to an adult who is terrible at self care. The adult may not recover as long as necessary from surgery, may go back to work immediately after giving birth or experiencing a trauma such as the death of a loved one. They don’t take care of themselves because they believe they don’t deserve to.
- “If you want to be loved, you have to earn it.” Narcissists actually have no real grasp on what it means to truly love someone. What they call love is conditional love at best. They will abuse their children & only stop it when the children do things that please them. This makes children of narcissists work so hard to please their parents. They are so starved for love, they’ll do about anything for their parents in order to earn some “love.” This can lead to adult children of narcissists who are frequently used & abused. They try to earn love from others. Abusers seek this out in a victim, because it means that victim will put up with anything.
- “Your worth depends on what you do only.” Related to #2, this means that you only have value when you please the narcissist. If you discovered the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s & heart disease, & made it free & readily available to every human being on the planet, if your narcissistic parent didn’t have a vested interest in these cures, your parent would still see you as worthless. Yet, if you bought a pen for your parent you knew she liked, it would gain more approval than inventing those cures. She would see you as more worthy for getting her that pen than when you invented the cures for diseases that plague humanity.
- “Your emotions aren’t important. In fact, you aren’t allowed to have them!” The only person that really matters to a narcissist is that narcissist. No one else is even human, merely a tool to be used. Don’t “bother” a narcissistic parent with your feelings. After all, tools don’t have feelings, so you shouldn’t either. Besides, their emotions are the only important ones! Adult children of narcissists have become professionals at stifling their emotions. As a result, they end up miserable or sick (high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety, etc.).
All of these false beliefs are just that- FALSE! They have no basis in reality. Their basis is in the narcissist’s reality which is a world full of insanity. If you grew up learning such nonsense, then Dear Reader, it’s time to get rid of those false beliefs. Ask God to tell you the truth. Are you worthy? Are you deserving of love or does it depend on what you do? Any questions you can think of, ask Him & listen to what He has to say. You will find out quickly that these beliefs are not true. God thinks so much more of you than your narcissistic parent did. Let Him show you what He thinks of you. It’ll heal you & bring you joy.